Parents everywhere struggle to feed their children healthy meals, but when your child has medical complexities, it can be particularly challenging to find the time to cook at home. However, creating and sharing meals together has numerous benefits to families, including bonding, saving money, and healthier meals. Most parents want to cook at home for these reasons, but struggle to fit it into their busy schedules. That’s where meal prep comes in.
Benefits of Meal Prep
Meal prep has become quite popular in recent years, and it isn’t hard to understand why.
Preparing your meals ahead of time means that you spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family. If you can set aside a couple of hours on the weekend to prepare your meals, you can have more time during the week on what really matters to you — your family and your wellbeing.
When you have a child with medical complexities, you want to prioritize sticking to a sound budget so you can fully fund your emergency fund if the worst case scenario happens. Meal prep is one of the best ways to save money on food. Instead of spending $10 per person on a takeout meal, you can spend $2-3 a meal for each person and put the rest into savings where you really want it.
Save Mental Energy
Making decisions takes a lot of your mental energy. If you have to decide every time you and your family eat what you will be eating, you’re spending a lot of unnecessary energy. By planning ahead, you don’t even need to think about food, leaving your mind to think about other, more important things.
Bond With Your Family
Meal prep is a great opportunity to bring the whole family together. Children of all different abilities will be able to contribute in some way to the meal prep process, whether it’s stirring, chopping, choosing recipes, or simply keeping you company while you cook. Because this is something you will do every week, it will become a ritual that brings the family together week after week for some fun in the kitchen.
Give Children Responsibility
Not to mention, this is a wonderful opportunity to give your children the chance to become empowered through responsibility. When you work together to prepare your meals, your child increases their skills in the kitchen, which will serve them the rest of their life.
Meal Prep Tips for Parents of Medically Complex Children
Here are some quick tips to make meal prep attainable for you and your family:
Create a Master List of Recipes
You can simplify meal prep significantly by having a list of recipes you can go to when you’re planning the week. Instead of taking time each week to research a bunch of recipes, have your favorite ideas on hand to make the planning process easy.
Write It Down
Also create a template you can use to write each meal down for the week. For example, a simple grid with each day of the week and each meal listed allows you to fill these fields in on a weekly basis. Many families use a chalkboard or whiteboard to display this information for everyone to reference.
Keep Your Calendar in Mind
To avoid food waste, also make sure you are planning around your schedule. There will be some evenings when you don’t need to prepare a meal, such as when you are visiting the in-laws for dinner or you have a church event where they will serve supper. When you’re meal planning, make sure you account for any meals you will not need to prepare so you don’t waste food.
Spread it Out
If you are planning, shopping, and cooking all on the same day, it can get overwhelming. You can make the whole process a lot more manageable by spreading it out. Plan your meals on Friday, grocery shop on Saturday, and cook on Sunday. Breaking it out like this can make meal prep much easier to fit into your schedule.
Keep it Simple
You don’t need to make anything fancy to have tasty meals at your disposal every week. All you have to do to make a balanced meal is to include a protein, carb, and vegetables, so you may benefit from just using this formula every week to create simple dishes. You also don’t have to make every single meal for the whole week; something as easy as putting together a couple of lasagnas for you to eat throughout the next few days can make things less stressful for you without demanding much of your time.
Rely on Habit
There will always be weeks when you don’t really feel like meal prepping. Maybe you have plans as a family that mean you only have two hours to devote to it, and ordering in sounds way more appealing. Motivation is only going to get you so far towards any goal. When it comes to meal prep, it’s important to make it a habit. Commit to doing it every Sunday for the next month, and it will become a lot easier to continue doing it. Don’t wait until you feel like doing it — just do it!
Many families need extra help when it comes to their child with medical complexities. If you’re in need of pediatric home health care in Denver, we can help. Contact Evergreen Home Healthcare today for more information!